An Egyptian zoo has come under criticism after being accused of painting donkeys to make them look like zebras.
The zoo in Nasr City has denied the allegation but Mahmoud Sarhan, a recent high school graduate whose recent Facebook photos of the two animals stirred the pot, is convinced otherwise.
“When we approached the zebra we realized that the lines were clearly painted, the paint was smudgy and his hair was nothing like that of a zebra,” Sarhan told ABC News. “It was a normal Egyptian donkey that you see everywhere.”
Sarhan was visiting the zoo in eastern Cairo, at the municipal International Garden park, with his family last week when he snapped the now-viral photos.
“Stupidity in our country has reached a level that they are now painting over a donkey to make it look like a Zebra,” he said in the post, which has been shared over 10,000 times. “They are so stupid they forgot to paint another layer and so it smudged on the donkey’s face.”
ABC News has been unable to reach the International Garden administration for comment but Mahmoud Sultan, director of Cairo’s Gardens Projects, the government body regulating the zoo in question, has told local media the zebra is real.
But a senior official with Egypt’s Central Administration for Zoos told ABC News that the “zebra” is, without a doubt, fake, adding that the facility doesn’t fall under that group’s supervision.
Mohamed Ragaee, head of the Central Administration, said, “The only zebras in Egypt are found in the Giza and Alexandria zoos.”
Zoos in Egypt are notorious for the harsh conditions the animals are forced to endure.
The Giza zoo, the oldest and largest in Africa, lost its accreditation from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2004 because of its deteriorating conditions.
Meanwhile, Sarhan is now worried, given some social media comments that he concocted the story for attention, he told ABC News.
“I am afraid it will turn against me,” he said.